Thursday, October 6, 2011

In one of the comments to my Week In Review post, Vicky who is both a bloggy and an IRL friend asked if I think that Smarty is challenged appropriately in her kindergarten. It prompted me to ask Smarty a few questions:
  • Me: Is Kindergarten difficult?
  • Smarty (giggling): No, kindergarten is not difficult?
  • Me: Is it boring?
  • Smarty  (surprised): No, it’s not boring! Kindergarten is great!
  • Me: Are you learning anything new?
  • Smarty : I don’t know… I guess so.
  • Me: Is it challenging?
  • Smarty Umm… Maybe only in writing. It’s great.
My own answer to the question whether she is challenged appropriately would probably be “it depends”. She is not challenged academically, but then she wouldn’t be in any school except in homeschool or maybe in school with about 1:5 teacher-student ratio. I am not deluded – the teacher that has 25 kids in her class cannot possibly accommodate individual levels of every student to make sure they are appropriately challenged in every subject.
However, she is still challenged. Not so much academically, but physically, socially and emotionally. The oldest child in her class has just turned 7, and Smarty is not even 5 yet. Emotional and social maturity and competence are as important and require as much practice as academic competence. Smarty has enough puzzles to sort out observing and interacting with her classmates and with even older kids in her afterschool. What’s important to me is that she is happy, bubbling with positive energy and has desire to “hit the books”, so to speak when she comes home. She writes voluntarily, mostly the list of things she wants to do, she asks for math worksheets, and she plays school sometimes with her stuffed animals, especially her music lessons. Since I never planned to raise a child who will be ready for college by 12, I am very happy that she enjoys a regular neighborhood school so much. I can only hope that her enthusiasm and good cheer will stay on with her as she goes through her school years.


Joyful Learner said...

It's great that she's so adaptive! I've known kids who act out when not challenged, including my child. It's tough in those cases.

Christy said...

Love this. Even in second grade, C is not always challenged - they are reviewing simple addition right now and he is doing multiplication and division at home. That doesn't mean that he isn't learning or that he isn't challenged in other ways. He loves school and definitely doesn't find it boring, so I'm happy. Same with R.

Ticia said...

Great response!

So many people view challenge as just academic and don't think about the other things.

Debbie said...

I love your response to this question. I think that is sometimes where I struggle especially with Selena in her Cubbies, is she challenged? Sure they are providing more workbooks for her, but there again she knows almost everything in both workbooks. Is she challenged by the social aspect, well, sticking her in with 3 and 4 year olds, is a bit challenging for her trying to understand why she isn't quite like they are. I sometimes wish they would do away with this concept of the age thing for everything, and see a child for where they stand, or their abilities. I feel Selena would be better served in the Sparks, then where she is right now. Yet, I know the socialization is good for her.

MaryAnne said...

I love that you look at all way different ways Anna can be challenged, instead of only considering academics.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I have had students that acted out when I didn't give them things tha engaged their minds.

Mom and Kiddo said...

It's so true that being challenged in school is more about the three Rs.

Our Homeschool Fun said...

Oh, Natalie, I agree with every single thing you said here. Even as as a homeschool mom I cannot academically challenge Joe as much as I would like, but he is challenged in other ways and the fact he is learning and happy is what matters most to me.

This is a wonderful post! There are so many different facets of learning and academics is definitely one, but there are many more that make up a well rounded individual. You got my 'two cents' and so much more with this comment :-). Anna, in my opinion, is more than fine!!

Viki and David said...

Anna's class sounds pretty wonderful. I'm glad she's thriving and having fun. I didn't mean to start a hot topic actually because of course there is more to education than academics alone. My school district doesn't offer multi-age K/1 classrooms. They produce the most national merit scholars in the entire state but it's through rigorous drilling of state standards in reading, writing, and math. So the first month of kindergarten I heard from a few friends that their kids were quite tired of the phonics drills and counting to 20. If you go half day you get the core curriculum for 2 hrs 40 minutes. I think the kids who go full day are more satisfied because there's art, music, language, science to add variety to what they're doing and more interaction with their peers.

Elise said...

Hear, hear! It's complex and as you said there are many factors to be considered when challenging children.

Kelly said...

I think you're right to think of challenging her in other ways than just academics. I personally have seen Little J thrive in areas he is challenged in when there isn't a constant challenge in all areas. It's like he has the confidence to try hard to succeed because he knows he can if he works at those areas. Does that make sense?
Little Wonders' Days

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

I love all of your response to the question, what a great perspective you have of Anna's overall development.

hey said...

I think we sometimes confuse being challenged with growing and learning. Today society seems so concerned with "challenging" our children. Learning doesn't always have to be a "challenge" but it does need to be stimulating and it does need to help children grow.

Sometimes children need less workbooks and more time to explore, think, problem solve and create. :)

I really like the way you look at Anna's growth as a whole. Anna is certainly a happy little girl who is always growing and learning in many different ways.